Saturday, April 23, 2016

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.” ― William Shakespeare

What most people don’t realize is that we have no heating or refrigeration of any kind inside our house.  Our windows are almost always open (with mosquito screens in place), so the weather on the outside is pretty much the weather on the inside—except for when it rains and even then only the windows that the rain is entering are closed.  For nine years, all we had were wooden shutters to keep the rain and the wind out.  After my mother passed, we used some of the money she left us to put tinted sliding glass in every window in our house, making it easy to close those facing the monsoon rains (and it doesn’t always come from the same direction).  However, the heat outside is the heat inside.  The thickness of our walls and the shade from the roof and porches drop it down about ten to fifteen degrees, so it almost never gets below 68 degrees or above 85 degrees (Fahrenheit) inside.  We do have fans in almost every room and they run most of the time during the dry season.  When it’s rainy, it gets cold (to us anyway) at about 68 to 72 degrees, and we are putting on sweaters and adding blankets to the beds.  Having our windows open all the time also means we hear all the sounds surrounding us.  There are no traffic sounds, no horns, no trucks lumbering by, no sirens, no engine noise of any kind.  It is very quiet where we are, so we mostly hear birds, crickets, frogs, and, of course, the children laughing and singing on their way to school.  We also hear our dogs barking to warn strangers away and the occasional friend or two.  Every now and then hyenas venture to the edge of our area and start every dog in a ten-mile radius howling in unison.  We hear (and smell) the rain when it comes, and we also hear the wind which is strong here in Bunda.  The strong wind and the open windows mean that dirt comes in and we have to dust, sweep, and mop the floors every day.  It’s a small price to pay for the beauty and quiet which surrounds us.  For most of the homes, whether mud huts or mud brick houses, doors are sometimes just curtains or very flimsy wood.  There are no doorbells or knockers, so everyone is obligated to stand outside the door and say “hodi” (pronounced hoh-dee) as many times as it takes for someone to say “karibu” or welcome.  This is the custom even for inside the house as you don’t enter another room without saying “hodi.”  It’s a custom that is very easy to accept and embrace.  It’s just polite, that’s all.  We are a part of our surroundings here including the smells, sounds, heat, and rain—and we love it!  It’s like a permanent camp but with indoor plumbing.  When it’s hot here, it’s hot for everyone, and same goes for cold and rain.  Temperatures in the high sixties means coats and blankets for everyone, the locals and those of us who have become Africanized as to hot and cold—like us.  Last night, I had to get out of bed to turn the fan off, but it wasn’t cold enough to close the window.  Sounds kinda like paradise, doesn’t it?  We think so.  We can sleep sixteen with hot showers and western toilets, so come see us.  We’ll keep the light on for you (if there’s power).

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